WASHINGTON (AP) — The State of the Union address tends to have a ritual rhythm. Grand entrance. Applause. Platitudes. Policies. Appeals for Unity, real or imagined.
President Joe Biden checked those boxes, and a few more, during his speech to a joint session on Congress on Tuesday. In part, he seemed to be laying the foundation to run for a second term. “We've been sent here to finish the job,” he said.
Biden made calls for unity and tried to emphasize conciliation over conflict, easier to do in this rarefied setting, seemingly impossible to sustain in such divided times.
Takeaways from the president's State of the Union address:
Biden's speech almost defiantly ignored the bitter divisions between Republicans and Democrats and his own low standing with the public.
He returned repeatedly to common ground, making the case that both parties can back U.S. factories, new businesses being formed and the funding of 20,000 infrastructure projects. When Biden hit each of these themes, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy politely clapped, evening standing to applaud at one point.
It’s a sign that Democrats and Republicans can at least agree to a shared set of goals, even if they have very different views of how to get there.
In the midterm election campaign, Biden warned of Republican extremists. On Tuesday night, he portrayed them as partners in governance during the first two years of his presidency.
But then came a Biden comment that generated boos and hoots from Republicans: Biden said some in the GOP were bent on cutting Social Security and Medicare.
That sparked a raucous back and forth that seemed more in line with the reality of the actual relationship between the parties.
Biden used the speech to highlight his focus on the common man, calling out billionaires who pay lower tax rates than the middle class and airlines that treat their passengers like “suckers.”
It amounted to a dare to Republican lawmakers who increasingly claim to represent blue-collar workers.
“No billionaire should pay a lower tax rate than a school teacher or a firefighter,” Biden said in one of the bigger applause lines of his speech.
The president brought back an idea from last year to put a minimum tax on billionaires so they don’t pay a lower rate than many middle-class households. Biden had pitched a 20% tax on the income and unrealized financial gains of households worth $100 million or more. The administration estimated it would generate $360 billion over 10 years. That would in theory help fund some priorities and possibly reduce the deficit.
But Biden’s tax plan might be more about scoring political points, as he couldn’t get it past West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin in the Senate last year.
He was straightforward in saying he would stop airlines from charging fees in order to sit families together, saying that children were being treated like luggage. He wants to ban hidden resort fees charged by hotels and penalties charged by cell service providers.
“Americans are tired of being played for suckers,” Biden said.
Biden had been on a winning streak countering the United States’ rising military and economic competitor China.
Then Beijing brazenly floated a spy balloon across the United States, an embarrassing episode for Biden that culminated last weekend with him ordering the Pentagon to shoot the craft out of the sky over the Atlantic Ocean.
The incident has dominated headlines, with some Republicans arguing that it demonstrates Biden has been wobbly on Beijing.
Biden briefly addressed the incident directly: “As we made clear last week, if China’s threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did.”
Lost in the noise is the Biden administration’s increasingly aggressive efforts to counter China. like agreements with the Philippines and Japan to adjust or expand the U.S. military presence in those countries.
The balloon drama overshadowed all of that.
Last year’s State of the Union was dramatically shaped by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which started days before the address.
At that moment, the chances of Ukraine staying in the fight with a more formidable Russian military seemed highly unlikely. Nearly a year later, Ukraine is firmly in the fight.
Biden took a moment to pay tribute to Ukraine, addressing one of his guests, Ambassador Oksana Markarova, as representing “not just her nation but the courage of her people.”
He also applauded Congress for giving the Ukrainian what it needed to face Russia’s brutal aggression; the United States has already committed nearly $30 billion in security assistance since the start of the war.
In private, administration officials have made clear to Ukrainian officials that Congress’ patience with the cost of the war will have its limits. But with Tuesday’s address, Biden offered an optimistic outlook about the prospects of long-term American support.
“Ambassador, America is united in our support for your country,” Biden said looking toward Markarova in the gallery. “We will stand with you as long as it takes.”
Biden uttered the phrase “finish the job” 13 times during his address. It sounded like the makings of a slogan he might employ for a reelection campaign.
But it is highly unlikely he will be able to finish the job on many of the things he referenced, like an assault weapons ban, universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds and forcing companies to stop doing stock buybacks.
At least not during this term.
— Maurice and Kandice Barron of New York, the parents of a 3-year-old who has survived a rare pediatric cancer, meant to highlight Biden's Cancer Moonshot initiative.
— Kristin Christensen and Avarie Kollmar of Seattle, a mother-daughter pair who are sharing their story about caring for their injured Navy veteran husband and father.
— Ruth Cohen of Rockville, Maryland, a Holocaust survivor and volunteer at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum who has warned against rising antisemitism.
— Mitzi Colin Lopez of West Chester, Pennsylvania, an advocate for people brought to the U.S. illegally as children who have received protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
— Maurice "Dion" Dykes of Knoxville, Tennessee, who is training to be a teacher after a 25-year graphic design career as part of a program funded by the 2020 COVID-19 relief law.
— Kate Foley of Rolling Meadows, Illinois, a 10th grade student looking to use the skills from her school engineering classes to pursue a career as a biomedical engineer.
— Darlene Gaffney of North Charleston, South Carolina, a breast cancer survivor who has promoted the importance of early detection and timely cancer screenings.
— Doug Griffin of Newton, New Hampshire, who lost his daughter, Courtney, in 2014 to a fentanyl overdose, as the Biden administration works to strengthen federal efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.
— Jacki Liszak of Fort Myers, Florida, who met with the president and first lady in the wake of Hurricane Ian and whose business stands to benefit from federal climate resiliency funding.
— Harry Miller of Upper-Arlington, Ohio, a mechanical engineering student and a former football player for Ohio State University, who left football to prioritize his mental health.
— Paul Sarzoza of Phoenix, the owner of a cleaning and facilities services company that is benefitting from servicing companies investing in high-tech manufacturing in his area.
— Amanda and Josh Zurawski of Austin, Texas, who found doctors unable to intervene after her water prematurely broke at 18 weeks pregnant due to the Texas abortion ban. Amanda Zurawski developed sepsis and nearly died because of the delay in receiving treatment, as the Biden administration looks to highlight the consequences of the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade last year.
Her study looked at not just the storms but the problems that back-to-back hurricanes caused to people. In both situations, the frequency of back-to-back storms increased dramatically from current expectations. The study looked heavily at the impacts of storms more than just the storms themselves. But Lin said it’s just the nastier nature and size that increases the likelihood of back-to-back storms hitting roughly the same area. Some, including Corbosiero, say it is hard to say for sure that the back-to-back trend is already happening.1 month ago Fremont Tribune
But most experts have seen no indication of mass deaths or famine in North Korea. It’s unclear whether North Korea will take any significant steps to address food shortages. But North Korea rarely comes up with such measures,” said Nam Sung-wook, a professor at Korea University in South Korea. North Korea needs about 5.5 million tons of grain to feed its 25 million people annually, so it’s short about 1 million tons this year. Efforts by North Korean authorities to tighten controls and restrict market activities have also worsened the situation, he said.1 month ago Fremont Tribune
“Dilbert” creator Scott Adams experienced possibly the biggest repercussion of recent racist comments when a major comics syndicator, which also operates the GoComics website, announced Sunday it would no longer work with the cartoonist. Andrews McMeel Universal said in a statement that the syndication company was “severing" their relationship with Adams. In a YouTube episode released Monday, Scott Adams said that new “Dilbert” strips will only be available on his subscription service on the Locals platform. Adams, who is white, repeatedly referred to people who are Black as members of a “hate group” or a “racist hate group” and said he would no longer “help Black Americans." "But you should also avoid any group that doesn’t respect you, even if there are people within the group who are fine,” Adams said.1 month ago Fremont Tribune
They’re more likely to occur from May through August, particularly during periods of high heat — making the December derecho so uncommon. A 2009 storm dubbed a Super Derecho by the National Weather Service traveled from western Kansas to eastern Kentucky. A 2003 derecho traveled from Arkansas through several southern states, including Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. The weather service said a progressive derecho is fueled by a hot and moist environment with relatively strong winds aloft. They sweep across an area both long and wide, driven by the presence of very strong winds in the atmosphere.1 month ago Fremont Tribune
Speed around a French village in the video game Gran Turismo and you might spot a Corvette behind you trying to catch your slipstream. But in some instances, they are also trying to learn how to get smarter in the real world. “It’s probably not going to be one big breakthrough and that everything is going to be shifted to the real world,” Volz said. Japanese electronics giant Sony launched its own AI research division in 2020 with entertainment in mind, but it's nonetheless attracted broader academic attention. Peter Wurman, director of Sony AI America and project lead on GT Sophy, said it takes about two weeks for AI agents to train on 20 PlayStations.1 month ago Fremont Tribune
Instead, Universal Pictures' “Cocaine Bear” rampaged through multiplexes, scoring notably above expectations. Made for about $35 million and directed by Elizabeth Banks, “Cocaine Bear” stirred up plenty of buzz just from its title and its made-to-go-viral trailer. "Snakes on a Plane," a movie many compared to “Cocaine Bear,” opened with $13.9 million in 2006. In just about the epitome of counterprogramming to “Cocaine Bear,” Lionsgate's “Jesus Revolution” also debuted strongly. “Cocaine Bear,” $23.1 million.1 month ago Fremont Tribune
The SAG Awards, often an Oscar preview, threw some curve balls into the Oscars race in a ceremony streamed live on Netflix's YouTube page from Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles. “This is not just for me," said Yeoh, the first Asian actress to win the SAG Award for female lead. He's also the first Asian to win best male supporting actor at the SAG Awards. The SAG Awards are considered one of the most reliable Oscar bellwethers. After the SAG Awards, presented by the film and television acting guild SAG-AFTRA, lost their broadcast home at TNT/TBS, Netflix signed on to stream Sunday's ceremony.1 month ago Fremont Tribune
FONTANA, Calif. — Most of NASCAR's Cup Series drivers feel like they're saying their final goodbye to a dear old friend this weekend. Fontana won't host a NASCAR weekend in 2024, and the new setup might not be ready until 2026 — if it happens at all. "And here's the part that makes me feel a little better about it: Yes, the racing here is spectacular. No problemGiven their familiarity with this circuit, the drivers aren't concerned after the weather kept them off the track Saturday. "It would be a different question if this was last year and we had a brand-new racing car."1 month ago Fremont Tribune